Resident Evil 5 Review

Posted: April 2, 2009 in Musings
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Resident Evil 5 Review

After four long years of waiting, four years of teasing screenshots, videos that showed the same footage repeatedly, four years of tiny snippets of information released at a snail’s pace from Capcom, we finally have an answer to the sixty- four thousand dollar question: can Resident Evil 5 possibly be better than its predecessor?

The short is, no, it’s not better. In fact, it’s not even close to being like Resident Evil 4 and, if anything, the game is all the better for it. With the departure of Resident Evil’s Shinji Mikami, and with the last game ending on such a pumped-up action movie-style finale, Capcom and new producer Jun Takeuchi have decided to make the most daring decision since the series changed camera perspectives: to drop survival horror altogether.

This is ultimately the first clue as to whether or not you are going to agree with Takeuchi’s new vision for the franchise. If you are prepared to accept the new cover system, AI partner and enemies with machine guns, you’re in for one the greatest third-person action shooters on the market. For everyone else, it’s so far removed from that charmingly scary B-movie that entertained and frightened in equal measure twelve years ago that is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

The game is split across six chapters, each with two or three sub-chapters, with the game radically changing halfway through. The first half of the game is utterly phenomenal. The intense village encounter manages to outdo the opening of Resi 4 by giving you a psychologically lengthy build-up to the event and then refusing to give you enough ammo to deal with the attack sufficiently. From then on, Resi 5 never seems to slow down, adhering perfectly to 4’s outstanding pacing and constant refreshment of location, scenario and enemies. The entire Marshlands chapter is one of the most incredible areas in the game and possibly the best arena since – whisper it – Raccoon City itself.

Newcomer to the story Sheva Alomar stars alongside series veteran Chris Redfield. Playing the role of either computer AI partner, or real-life friend in co-op mode, she becomes an amazing ally who you will rely on and, eventually, trust. She becomes instrumental in helping you survive the game’s many incredibly tough sections, leading you to keep her around as your RPG-esque healing buddy. Yes, she does urinate ammo away. Yes, she can serve as a hindrance when you’re overloaded with enemies. But she always makes up for this by saving your arse every time you need it. Sheva also serves the important role of being the ‘hook’ for the uninitiated. You see, Capcom have understood that many gamers will be playing this as their first Resi game, so Sheva acts as the character they can identify with, and Chris to explain things to. In addition, there is an easily accessible 44-page ‘History’ file that explains the entire twelve-year backstory, as well as bite-size versions that crop up on all the loading screens.

The second half of the game is where the problems crop up and the Resident Evil we all knew and loved disappears for good. Chapter 4 contains the obligatory ‘caves’ sequence, known and hated as the most boring level since videogaming began. The major problem with it is that it completely shatters the incredible build-up that the first chapters worked so hard to establish. Here the pacing is utterly broken – it’s not a puzzle section, neither an action setpiece and even the textures look recycled from the last game. The final chapters make up for this significantly, offering a huge range of locations and enough action to make Resi 4’s Island chapter look tame by comparison.

And this is where Jun Takeuchi plays his trump card. Boy, can he do action. Coming off the back of similar third-person action-fest Lost Planet, it seems that he knows a few tricks about huge setpieces and satisfying explosions, even if he can’t manage the horror side of it. The closest thing you’ll get to the feeling of terror in this game is the fear placed upon you by the limited control scheme, one that now seems horribly outdated by the smooth walk-and-shoot controls of Dead Space.

There is one last card that Jun Takeuchi can play better than Shinji Mikami ever could – he has the balls to end a twelve year-long storyline. This game is the final act in the long running storylines for Umbrella, Umbrella’s founders and Albert Wesker himself. Without giving anything away, it’s well worth the wait.

Some things that aren’t worth the wait, however, are the boss battles this time around. A bare handful stand out as being truly memorable, while most consist of circular arenas where the objective is to run around and fire when you’re made the distance. Biggest crime is the return of El Gigante (renamed Ndesu in Africa), where the fight takes place in a stationary vehicle. In the wake of the many varied and stylised bosses from Resi 4, this is a huge disappointment.

Other disappointments are the game’s running time. The first run clocked in at a little over eight hours, which was slashed down to less than five on the second go. Attempting the game on harder difficulties takes a little while longer – the damnably difficult Professional mode adds hours onto the play time.

But while the game might be shortened considerably, the replayability has reached a new plateau. The sheer amount of things to do, see, find, shoot and collect means that you can come back to the game long after you’ve seen the final results screen. And with the new, much more accessible Chapter Select menu, you can dip in and out of any part of the game at will, making this the first ever ‘casual’ Resi title.

So where next for the franchise? It’s gone as far away from that gloomy zombie-infested mansion in the woods as it can go. Capcom would be wise to consider shaking up the franchise again – third person shooters flood the market these days and they are becoming more and more repetitive by the day. Perhaps a quiet return to the horror roots are in order.

Overall, it’s a great action game and a thrilling end to the series. A worthy purchase for both veterans and new fans alike.


  1. Jack says:

    RACIST GAME LOL -1000%

  2. ad4m22 says:

    Don’t make me come over there.

    (over there= upstairs)

  3. Alex says:

    To be honest wading through hordes of unruly black people blowing there brains out sounds a bit like an SO19 officer’s wetdream…

    So just a bit racist.

  4. ad4m22 says:

    Look, I specifically didn’t go into it because it’s not even relevant. Of all the enemy models you come across, only a bare handful (five or six) are even black.

    Even then, it’s all about context. Bascially, in the sixties, rich white people discovered a flower in Africa. They murdered and then experimented on a tribe of black people to get at the flower and find out what it could do. They turned the tribe into their slaves. And now, a WHITE BLOND HAIRED MAN, aryan in all but eye colour, is using the tribe to try and fend off outsiders as he plans to destroy the world.

    Even more to the point – he turns a former hero character into a villain and turns them ARYAN.

    Really, the game is telling us that white people fucked up Africa.


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